Late last month, a Native woman who has been in a coma for years gave birth while residing at Hacienda HealthCare, a long-term care facility in Phoenix, Arizona, for people younger than 45 with disabilities and complex medical needs. Disability rights advocates say that this tragic story illustrates a largely ignored issue with the potential to worsen under the Trump administration: sexual assaults of people with disabilities, particularly those living in institutional care facilities.
The woman, whose identity has not been made public, *has been in a coma for at least ten years following a near-drowning experience,* according to KPHO-TV, the CBS News affiliate that was the first news outlet to report the incident. (The outlet has since reported that the women has lived at the care facility for 27 years.) Even though the woman received around-the-clock care, no one claims to have known she was pregnant until she gave birth on December 29, 2018.
“From what I’ve been told she was moaning,” an unidentified source told KPHO-TV. “And they didn’t know what was wrong with her.”
The Phoenix police department has launched an investigation into the case, and the facility has reportedly implemented a new policy of not allowing male staff to enter a female patient’s room unless accompanied by a female employee, according to KPHO-TV. The CEO of Hacienda HealthCare resigned earlier this week.
Although many of the details of this horrifying incident remain unknown, news of the case has conjured up significant outrage, especially among sexual assault and disability rights advocates who want to know how this could have happened and what actions will be taken to stop similar tragedies in the future.
Chief among their concerns is the troubling treatment of this story, particularly among the media who have been reporting this incident as a “possible sexual